This World is a Realm of Trial

Respected brothers and sisters. May Allah Almighty grant us all blessings from the Qur’anic verses recited. Among all creation, Allah Almighty has favoured the human being with a privileged position. “Assuredly We have honoured the children of Adam (with many distinctions),” (17:70) He declares. This honour is of course in their spiritual constitution.

The Almighty invites us to Paradise with our spiritual constitution. Worldly life has been created as a trial. This world is a realm of trial. We have been created for the Hereafter. Our textbook is the Divine miracle, the Divine manifestation, wonder and miracle in words. The Qur’an is our textbook. The teacher of this world is the mercy to all the worlds, the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings. We are being tested in everything. In everything there is transience and all things are heralds of the Last Day. There is no lastingness. “All that is on the earth is perishable” (55:26) Everything reflects mortality. When we look with the eye of our heart.

Why have we come to the world? In whose dominion are we? To where are we headed? The Qur’an provides the best answer. An active, living response. Graveyards also provide another answer. Why did we come to the world? Under whose sovereignty? What is our destination? Here, there are a great many lessons, and the addresses of our past, when we look with our heart’s eye.

We have come to the world for the Hereafter. We are here for the Hereafter. Religion too is for the Hereafter. Allah Almighty loves His servant much. He wills that His servant prepare themselves for the Hereafter. He assigned an eminent position to them among all these created beings. All creation was created for the human being. He wills that the human being be a friend to Him. In the last three juz of the Qur’an in particular, there is constant news of the Last Day. Preparing for the Hereafter. In the Qur’anic chapter recited, Allah Almighty declares, “Has the account of the Overwhelming come to you?” (88:1) There is transience and news of the Last Day in all things. Allah Almighty declares, “Has the account of the Overwhelming come to you?” (88:1) Constant warning. How prepared are we in this fleeting journey? How prepared are we in this fearsome journey? Allah Almighty gives many examples in the Qur’an, revealing to us a great many scenes. For instance, in Sura Anbiya, He calls us to consider, “The Day” (21:104) the Last Day. When, heaven will be rolled up “as written scrolls are rolled up” (21:104). The heavens, in their entirety – however many trillions, septillions – beyond measure, will explode. The heavens have no limits that can be identified by the servant. We are unaware of the seven heavens. “We will roll up heaven as written scrolls are rolled up. We will bring the creation back into existence as easily as We originated it in the first instance. This is a binding promise on Us,” (21:104) He declares. “And assuredly, We fulfill whatever We promise,” He declares. Just think, half a kilo, one kilo of metal explodes, and this is called an atom. It turns into energy. What terror one kilo of metal causes and all human beings are under the threat of this atom bomb. And this is one kilo of metal at most, after all. Allah Almighty declares that He will destroy the entire Heavens. It is just that simple. He declares, “We will roll up heaven as written scrolls are rolled up.” Allah Almighty wants His servant to be prepared.

Again, He describes a Day of horror. He declares: “Then how will you, if you persist in unbelief, guard yourselves against a Day which will turn the children gray-headed?” Again, He declares: “On that Day when a person flees from his brother, And from his mother and father, And from his spouse and his children.” All refuges and shelters will be destroyed on that Day. Again, in Sura Hajj, it is stated: “On the Day when you all see it,” and we will all see it. We will rise up from our graves and see it. “…every suckling mother will utterly forsake her infant in dread, and every pregnant female will cast off her burden. You will see all people as if gone out of their senses, while, in fact, they are in their senses. This is because God’s punishment is extremely severe.” (22:1-2) There are countless verses. Again, Allah Almighty declares, “I swear by the day of resurrection.” He declares this with a awe-inspiring oath. He then turns to our inner world: “And I swear by the self-accusing human soul.” In other words, He conveys news of the Last Day. Nafs al-lawwama denotes our pulling ourselves together.

Nafs al-lawwama is a wayward carnal soul. A carnal soul that will have regret. Allah Almighty declares: “And I swear by the self-accusing human soul,” (75:2-3) that you will be resurrected and brought to account. As you know, we have within us a heart that pumps blood. Our physical existence is maintained through it. And we also have a spiritual existence. This continues with a spiritual heart. And this is of varying degrees and levels. Allah Almighty wants from us a heart that can be a friend to Him. At the base of this is – may Allah protect us from that! – the nafs al-ammara. This is the rebellious nafs. It readily accesses everything that it wants, in the way that it wants. Such beings are living corpses. The body is alive, while the heart is dead. Of them, Allah Almighty declares: “They are utterly deaf, dumb, and blind.” (2:18) “Indeed you cannot make the dead hear,” (27:80) He says of them. Why have we come to the world? In whose dominion are we? We are we headed? With Whose bounties are we nurtured? It never considers this. There are veils for them in this world. Just like the eye cannot see anything if two fingers were places in front of it. Those with such hearts are at the level of nafs al-ammara, they cannot see any truth. Those whose hearts are blind. There carnal existence consists of an unmeasured satisfaction. And the natural result is unease.

The second is “the self-accusing human soul” (75:2). It feels regret at the mistakes it makes, its neglect of Allah’s commands, and its faults. It is pained inwardly. However, it still does these things. It makes mistakes in business life. It is negligent in its worship. Its piety is weak. And this is nafs al-lawwama. Allah Almighty immediately makes known the Last Day. He makes the nafs al-lawwama known right beneath the Day of Resurrection. Freeing oneself from this state is very important as an eternal life will begin. This fleeting life is a drop in the ocean in comparison.

Above this is the nafs al-mulhima, the inspired self. Here, good and evil become apparent. Good and evil become clearer and the ability to resist carnal desires starts in the heart. This is nafs al-mulhima. Of course Allah Almighty does not want this for us either. He wants us to advance even further. He wants from us nafs al-mutma’inna, or the Tranquil Self, in Sura Fajr (89:27).

The tranquil self or soul at rest wants an exacting life of piety before Allah’s commandments. Allah Almighty declares: “O you soul at rest!” (89:27) Allah Almighty wills for us to be at this level. He does not address the human being prior to this. The Almighty’s address to us begins at the level of nafs al-mutma’inna. “O you soul at rest,” He declares. This is the way in which the call starts for the first time. It starts, in other words, at the fourth level. Prior to this, Allah Almighty does not address the human being directly. It attains peace, tranquillity and repose with a strong belief.

Nafs al-Radiya, the Satisfied Self, calls itself to account. Is Allah pleased with my state? Is He pleased with my commercial life? Is He pleased with my occupation, my service? Is He pleased with my livelihood, my sustenance, the sustenance I provide for for family? Is He pleased with my religious sensitivity, the way I treat others, the care I display towards the rights of others? Is He pleased with my morality, my compassion, my mercy, my sacrifice? Here, a reckoning begins with oneself, “radiya”.

And such sincerity allows it to attain the level of nafs al-mardiyya, or the Satisfying Self. Allah Almighty is pleased with that servant and declares, “And enter my Paradise!” (89:30) A visa for Paradise is given is this way. In other words, there is no guarantee for entry into Paradise. Developing the life of the heart is essential.

The heedless person is concerned with their fleeting days. They make a big deal out of anything worldly. The actual thing that one needs to be concerned about is the Day of Resurrection. Do not forget two things, it is stated, and you will be at ease. That is, if your heart reaches such a frequency. The first: Do not forget Allah Almighty. The second: Do not forget mortality, or death and the Hereafter. The Messenger constantly warns us, as do the Qur’anic verses. Allah’s Messenger states: “Remember often the destroyer of pleasures,” that is death. This is vital to rein in our carnal desires and ambitions. Moreover, consider the fact that the Ottomans placed graves and cemeteries in front of mosques. They placed them right at the city’s centre, so that passers-by, those who come to prayer can see there, their own future and perform their prayer accordingly. Cemeteries are always in the city centre. So that people could see their own end and not remain heedless. Do not forget Allah Almighty, death, mortality, the Day of Resurrection. Allah Almighty constantly reminds us of the Last Day.